Archive for » June, 2014 «

Jun
30

Cyprus holidays are the best holidays in the world. Then again I am bound to say that because we (Julie and myself) have fallen in love with this beautiful Mediterranean Island. Every since our first holiday there in 1996 we have been well and truly hooked on Cyprus holidays. So much in fact that we have bought a Cyprus holiday home of our own which we share with our family and friends. I could wax lyrical for hours (and probably will) about the virtues of Cyprus holidays.

Situated close to Turkey and Egypt Cyprus has a beautiful climate boasting over 320 days of sunshine every year. The beautiful clear blue Mediterranean Ocean stays warm right through till the end of November and the short Cyprus winter only last from around the end of December until around the end of March. That’s when it rains and boy does it rain! The Cyprus landscape is dry and barren for 10 months of the year then wham! all the rain in one go so to to speak. The reservoirs get topped up and the ground soaks up all that life giving water. When it rains in Cyprus you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in Venice. The roads become rivers and vast tracts of low laying land become lakes.

But hey! we don’t take our Cyprus holidays for the rain we take them for all that glorious Mediterranean sunshine and there is always plenty of that from March right up to the end of November. Even in December you can go for walks on the beach in shorts and tee shirt although the evenings are cooler. Like I said the sea stays warm well into the year and in fact bathing in the sea is probably warmer in October than swimming in the pools. The reason for this is that the sun heats the sea throughout the long hot summer and it takes a long time to cool down again.

There are some fantastic holiday resorts in Cyprus and they are all easily accessible from one of the Islands airports at either Paphos or Larnaca. There is a modern coastal motorway linking all the main resorts and towns so getting around is a cinch. The Cypriots drive on the left same as the U.K. which is a throwback to the days of British rule that ended in the 1960s. The road signs too are in both Greek and English another legacy of the English occupation of the Island. In fact some people love Cyprus so much that they retire there. They say that Cyprus is like England with the sun but without the rip off taxes.

I won’t go on about the cheap cost of living in Cyprus apart from saying that it makes me question what the British government is actually spending all my taxes on. With so much to do and see in Cyprus you will be coming back year after year (like we do) to get round to seeing everything. You will never tire of this beautiful Mediterranean paradise with it’s friendly people and warm sunny climate. Who knows you may even come to love the place as much as we do and buy yourself a beautiful Cyprus holiday villa or apartment.

Jun
30

I don’t get a commission for touting this miraculous gift for traveling seniors. I only wish I had it in the 90s when I did all my post-retirement jaunts around Europe, Mexico, South America, Canada and Alaska. It’s the Garmin StreetPilot, a handy little portable GPS (Global Positioning System). The cost ranges from $250 to $1,500, depending on screen size (2″ to 7″) and number of advanced doohickey attachments, like Bluetooth for giving it cell phone capabilities. Of course, there are competitive makes of the same kind of GPS product, but many experts tout the Garmin as best.

If you’re aware of how the larger, much more expensive GPS units work in cars, just imagine walking down a narrow, dark street in the middle of Venice and wondering how to get back to your hotel. Then you take out your trusty little Garmin, and watch and listen while the lighted screen and voice tell you precisely all the twists and turns on how to get back to your Venetian palazzo in time for the antipasto.

Or you’ve decided to stroll through Muir Woods, home of the giant Redwoods in Northern California, and you’re beginning to believe you’re caught up in a redwood hall of mirrors. Your brilliant Garmin will look up in the sky for that ever circulating satellite, in an instant, compute all the info in its electric brain and tell you how to get back to that woodsy lodge in time for the campfire sing of coombaya.

In my foreign travels, when I got lost, which was quite often, I had to bring out all the maps and try to figure which way to turn, or ask natives in high school versions of their language just where the hell was I. The current versions of portable GPS devices would have been great companions then, and I can only guess how much more sophisticated and helpful for senior travelers they will become in the near future.

Of course, not many gift givers will have the inclination or budget to be so generous with their farewell present for your soon-to-happen senior adventure. So, as long as you’re paying $1,500 to fly to the port of embarkation, another $5,000 for the cruise and another $2,000 for the three-day stopovers in Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris and Barcelona, why not give yourself a bon voyage present … a handy, little, portable GPS system. With it by your side, you may lose yourself in the joys of travel, but never again when you’re in the middle of a strange city.

Jun
29

Is there anything quite as romantic as April in Paris? Strolling hand in hand down the Champs Elysees, stopping in at a sidewalk caf for a latte, soaking up the magnificent color-soaked gardens where Monet painted water lilies? How about schussing down a slope together in the Swiss Alps, then drinking hot toddies and cuddling up together before the fire in an Alpine ski lodge? Or waltzing through the night on the shores of the Danube and greeting the morning sun from the middle of the Chain Bridge overlooking the river that inspired the most famous romantic waltz of all time? If youre looking for a romantic destination for a last minute romantic getaway, Europe is the place to look. Heres our picks for the top romantic destinations for a last minute romantic European getaway.

Venice, Italy
Beautiful Venice, the City of Canals, is a wonderfully romantic destination for any couple. Must-do romantic activities for Venice include viewing the city from the Campanile di San Marco, feeding the pigeons in St. Marks Square, a visit to the Bridge of Sighs and a twilight gondola ride along the canals that make Venice the unique city that it is. Stop back in St. Marks Square after your gondola ride, and enjoy an espresso or an aperitif at one of the sidewalk cafes while the city wanders by before returning to your hotel for the night.

Gstaad, Switzerland
Gstaad, the luxurious Swiss skiing city, is also one of the most romantic destinations on Earth. Surrounded by stunning mountains, the city offers activities that range from snuggling in front of a cozy fire to strapping on skis for a cross country hike. In the spring and summer, the mountains become a hikers paradise. Go on a treasure hunt in the hills to find the lovely edelweiss, or take a ride in one of the sky gondolas to enjoy the view and snuggle high above the city and mountains. The shopping is superb in Gstaad, with exclusive boutiques and crafty shops tucked along the main streets. Whatever is the season, Gstaad offers a plethora of romantic activities to suit any couple.

Costa de la Luz, Spain
Take a step off the beaten track to find true romance in Spain. Costa de la Luz lies along the Spanish coast, near to the far more traveled Costa del Sol. Beautiful sandy beaches and quaint towns define Costa de la Luz. Spend your days lazing in the sun, or hiking up into the surrounding mountains, then return to town in the evening for tapas and sherry at one of the many bodegas. You can stay in a luxury hotel, or take your pick of many bed and breakfast inns and villas along the Atlantic coast. For the adventurous, Costa de la Luz is the wind-surfing capital of the world, with some of the most challenging and exhilarating waves off the coast.

Mediterranean Cruise
Island hop on a luxury cruise liner in such a way that only the Europeans know how to do. Forget the tropics for a timeless romance, visit the sites where the ancients walked and loved. A Mediterranean cruise might include stops in Rome, Athens, Corsica, Sicily, Athens and Turkey. You can wander the ruins of the Parthenon, explore the cliffs of Corsica or hike into the hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. On board, youll be treated like royalty, with fine dining, fine wines and pampering spa treatments. Your love is timeless why shouldnt your vacation reflect that?

Booking last minute travel is easy when you use travel consolidator. You can take advantage of the best last minute deals offered by over 100 providers, all in one central place. Why spend your time surfing through dozens of sites to find a special romantic last minute getaway? Just find it all in one place.

Jun
29

Our journey took us to the Yorkshire Dales in a place called Asenby near Thirsk. What a wonderful site greets you in the form of a wonderful public house with a thatched roof and lots of strange and wonderful objects strategically placed on and around it. After all it was named the Crab & Lobster so a crab and lobster is what we saw. It is the kind of site you see in your lifetime, where you wonder if you are still deep in a dream or on some kind of medication. Needless to say we were definitely not on the latter. This beautiful little building is the start of your wonderful weekend break, holiday or maybe even wedding day. More about this pub later.

Just around the back we found the Crab Manor Hotel. As we drove into the graveled car park, two large white alabaster hounds greet you in a very welcoming way. The dog statues line the way to the magnificent front door surrounded by climbing ivy which reaches right up to the rooftop. In fact as we looked around, the whole grounds were a gardeners dream with trees of all colours and species, shrubs plants and flowers. If this was a taste of the opulence inside then we were in for a great treat.

Stepping into the hallway, well, what can I say it is to be seen to be believed. Decorated with beautiful artifacts and antiques, we did not know where to look first. I could see an enormous and I mean enormous Yeti in the window of the staircase wearing an apron. There was the biggest clock I have ever seen in my life on the wall. For anyone with bad eyesight, worry not. To tell you everything we could see just from the area we were stood in would constitute pages and pages of description. Take my word for it unusual is the word that comes to mind.

You will be greeted by the receptionist who is also very informative as well as kind and be shown to the room of your choice, which could be the Waldorf Atoria in New York the Cipriana Palace in Venice. La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakesh and many more. We stayed at the Sharrow Bay hotel in Ullswater.

As we walked through the door a Four Poster bed looms ahead of you with drapes and cherubs and beautiful bedding. I could not wait to lie under the canopy and imagine I was royalty at least. Down a couple of steps is the sitting room with television, wonderful furniture and Crisps! Yes crisps not just any old crisps but packaged in a container I have never seen before and enough to feed an army. Biscuits, coffee and teas.

Next we walked into the bathroom and oh my goodness

Jun
28

Italy is certainly one place that is on top of the mind of every tourist and people who wish to see the most beautiful things of the world. Pointless to even mention but while you are enjoying Italy tours the best of the cities to find accommodation includes the , Venice hotels, Florence hotels, and hotels in Milan and Pisa. These are few of the places located in Italy where you can expect mouthwatering cuisine, piazzas, memorials, churches, museums and wine regions.

There are choices of tourist destinations that are set on the world map. Right from Asian countries to the African countries to the European nations and the American continent to the green land and amongst all is the beautiful country called the Italy. This is one of the places when visited one can enjoy in abundance. It has been noticed from quite a while that Italy has been quite distinguished for its hospitality and hotels. If you actually observe and make a count then there are a number of best hotels available in all probable categories from luxury Italy hotels to discount hotels in Italy or Budget hotel Italy. Most of the discounted hotels endow with facilities and services they fall upon. There are a number of hotels that are known to provide the world class services and facilities to their guests.

The luxurious, exclusive Venice hotels are quite located at convenient locations that provide easy commuting facilities to their tourist. Apart from the basic facilities most of the hotels go beyond and delight their customers completely by presenting pleasant courtyards and a fitness center that comes along with a tennis court, swimming pool and golf course. The tourist may also find discount hotels in Venice which cater to all their needs and go right with their pocket strength.

The cheap hotels room also meets the highest international accommodation standards and hence is known to be the best in Italy.

Jun
28

While I cannot be considered an expert on either Italy, or traveling abroad, I would recommend visiting Italy at least once in your lifetime. There are many justified reasons as to why Italy is recognized as the most re-visited country in the world.

My wife and I vacationed there last Fall, taking part in one of those all-inclusive group tours, which included visits to the country’s most popular destinations. We immediately felt both welcomed and comfortable in each city, while traveling along this incredible journey. And while we observed the stunning countryside, consumed wonderful food, indulged in ritualistic wine tasting (both organized and non-organized), and enjoyed mostly favorable climate, it’s the people and their culture, both past and present, that have made this country so unique and intriguing. It just so happens to be set within a beautiful backdrop, in the heart of Europe. What has become quite apparent to me, over time, is that the real beauty of this country is being overlooked by its natural beauty.

After landing in Milan, and traveling to quaint Verona for a quick lunch, our first extended time was spent in Venice. A city that is literally sinking, and lacking roadways, transportation is via canals, bridges, and waterways, to the three main islands. Additionally, Venice is surrounded by many historically old buildings, apartments, hotels, businesses and neighborhoods. It’s a city that survived on its bodies of water for its livelihood, for transporting the goods and services they produced and delivered throughout the city and the country. The beauty (both real and natural), and the uniqueness of Venice is quite evident, from the numerous canals, to the craftsmanship and operation of the gondolas, to the world famous Murano Glass Factory, and to the unmistakable history and charm of St. Marks Square, which includes the Basilica, Doge’s Palace and, of course, all those pigeons!

Our next destination, where all 30 in our group stayed for three nights, was in Cortona, which is beautifully surrounded by Lake Trasimeno and the Appenines. Our accommodations included a wonderful 16th century villa, nestled in the mountains of Tuscany. Cortona may appear vaguely familiar to some tourists, as “Under the Tuscan Sun” was filmed here.

The next planned stop, during our 10 day excursion, included an afternoon in the every-street-looks-like-a-post card city of Florence, where art, tourism, and shopping are abundant. A magnificent city, rich

Jun
28

In 1907 Paul Cornu built the first helicopter. He was a French engineer who manufactured bicycles. In the 15th century, some four hundred years before Paul Cornu built the helicopter, Leonardo Da Vinci sketched one.

Leonardo also invented many devices which enabled the salvation of Venice in 1499. Leonardo was described as a man whose “talents transcended nature”.

Imagination, often times, transcends nature, or what we immediately know.

I am mesmerized by Leonardo Da Vinci. He makes me proud to be a member of the human race. He makes my own imagination go bonkers as I try to imagine him, sitting there, sketching a helicopter. He must have been thinking, “Flight would give us a great advantage over the enemy”. I can imagine that he probably thought in terms of organizing the battlefield a time or two. The actual attack, or defense. Probably envisioned spears or arrows or perhaps bullets shooting from the helicopter.

I think how odd it is that as a child, no one noticed the talent and imagination of Vincent Van Gogh. That it was actually his brother, Theo, who noticed it and encouraged Vincent as a teenager. Van Gogh, himself called his childhood, “gloomy and cold and sterile….”.

My own imagination gets me into trouble. I forget I’m driving. Hours can pass me and I know it not.

Of course, I’m not inventing future war machines. I’m just not that into war. No. I’m usually envisioning something I’d want to paint. Or write. I envision myself as becoming a master on the violin.

While my imagination can make me something of a delinquent, it also is a wonderful gift. One that frees me from this hard reality. My mind romances the universe. I can conquer my fears and enemies within my mind. In that, I truly can relate to Da Vinci.

Fight or flight? Or both!

I really hate war. I’d rather envision images of Le Pantheon upon my drab livingroom floor. I did. And I did. Took me a week. There upon my floor is a cherub riding a sea serpent. Done in an antique olive with black contrast.

You know, if imagination originates within the organic brain and not the ethereal mind, then perhaps imagination itself is something of a genetic echo. Maybe the world really is going in circles and cycles and what if long before Da Vinci was born, there really were helicopters. What if great imagination is the product of a strand of DNA and within that strand is coded the lives of those who lived before. Only stronger than normal. Concentrated.

I fell in love with John Steinbeck when I was 26 and first read The Grapes of Wrath. I thought he was brilliant. I fell in love with each carved word he wrote. Steinbeck was a great observer and a magnet for detail. He had such a way with words. If ever there was a Romantic Journalist, he was.

There was something almost Knightish about him.

Oh, it’s probably just my imagination.

Jun
27

Trip to Italy

Trip to Italy a Reference Guide

1. INTRO

*

This is a small guide with a few suggestions, mainly regarding good restaurants and places to visit nothing crazy, no “hey, Italian ladies love Americans, and the Italian guys go around whistling at women and saying ciao bella.” As an Italian that stuff always makes me cringe.

If there is one thing I’d like you to take away from this, even if you won’t follow any of my other advice, is this mantra: “Public transportation in Italy is awful I want a hotel downtown walking distance is king…”

So here you go, a few suggestions from an Italian lived there done that. Hope you enjoy this guide, but I especially hope you enjoy the awesome vacation you’ll have in Italy.

Route:

So you’ve got 2 maybe 3 weeks of vacation, money to spend and an appetite for good food and awesome sightseeing. Hell, you’ve got to got to Italy! Unless you have loads of time to spend there, I suggest mainly 5 cities/areas. Rome and the Amalfi Coast being my preferred.

Here is a suggested tour.

1) Milan (Milano)

2) Venice (Venezia)

3) Florence (Firenze)

4) Rome (Roma)

5) Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast (Amalfi, Ravello, Positano)

Starts north and work your way south down to the Amalfi coast.

You can easily land in Milan (Malpensa Airport), but Rome can work to if you want to do the route the other way around (land in Fiumicino Airport).

Overall Suggestions:

Suggestion N#1:

Stay in a hotel that is walking distance from the sights you want to go to. All the hotels I suggest later on are smack dab in the middle of the interesting places.

Suggestion N#2:

Avoid Naples. Unless you have a friend or a relative which can guide you through the wonders of this extremely beautiful city, you probably don’t want to deal with its absolute chaos and intrinsic dangers. If you decide to go to Capri, take the boat (the aliscafo) from Sorrento or Positano.

Suggestion N#3:

Read the “Italian Journey” by Wolfgang Goethe it’s probably the best guide you can get.

Public Transportation

Suggestion N# 1:

Public transportation in Italy is as bad as it gets. You always want to be in a hotel where you can walk to all sites of interest.

Suggestion N# 2:

If you decide to use public transportation:

Stay very focused on your wallet, purse, etc, when on busses or the metro.

Have the concierge or bell captain get your cabs whenever possible and let him give the directions.

Travel

Trains are great

Jun
27

European travel brings you to the most steeped-in-history cities of the world.

My top ten cities you should visit are London, England; Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France; Florence and Rome, Italy; Istanbul and Kusadasi, Turkey; Athens, Greece; and Venice, Italy. Fly to London and then take the Eurostar Train through Paris and coach to Barcelona, or fly from London to Barcelona.

Book a Cruise from Barcelona and you will enjoy all of these cities in just 12 days.

My wife and I were spell bound by the immense beauty and history of these cities and you will be, too!

But I digress. As we lead up to this great adventure and to experience first hand, the wonder of these cities, we’d like you to follow us through the 25 days we spent in Europe and the Mediterranean last year (September, 2006).

We found that by booking the air flight separate from the tours, you can save considerably. Being Canadian, we flew from Calgary, non stop, to London overnight which provides a good night’s sleep and you arrive refreshed to take on the sites of London.

The flight was uneventful, plenty to eat and although sleep wasn’t always easy, we managed to get some rest. We landed at Heathrow International Airport and took the Trafalgar Tour Airport Shuttle Service to our hotel in Fulham. After a quick check in and lunch, we took the subway to Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, and then back to our hotel for dinner and bed.

Hint: It’s wise to pre-purchase a London Pass before you leave home, and you can save on entrance fees to many London attractions.

The next day, we started our Taste of Britain Tour, with a continental breakfast followed by a City Tour of London including all the famous spots of down town London.

We purchased tickets for the show “Les Miserables” from one of the down town vendors at much reduced rates and then caught the subway to Westminster where we took a Catamaran Cruise down the Thames as far as the Tower Bridge and back. Beautiful.

We then visited the London Acquarium which was only average in standard, before walking to the Imperial War Museum for some intriguing information about the Holocaust and scenes from both major wars.

As we’d seen much of the London sites before, we were happy to have a quick bite to eat, then off we went to the Queens Theatre to see “Les Miserables” which was just marvelous.

The following morning, the Taste of Britain tour of England, Scotland and

Jun
27

Welcome to the land of the mighty Roman Empire! The Romans may have left the world stage a long time back, but the charm of Italy remains the same. Tourists from all over the world arrive in Italy to experience the rich history and culture preserved in the streets and historical monuments of Italy. Tourists looking for information on Italy tours can find it in this reliable World Travel Guide. This site provides updated information on flights to Italy, Cheap vacation packages, and hotels in Italy.

Italy is a beautiful country bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovakia, in Southern Europe. The Mediterranean Sea flanks the boot shaped country in the south. The country is famous all over the world as the origin of western culture and is also the home of the Catholic Church. The Renaissance started here in the middle ages and changed the history of the world. Italy is also famous for its fashion houses like Gucci, its cuisine, and stylish sports cars. This World Travel Guide provides information about Italy tours covering major cities of Italy, like Rome, Bologna, Naples, Pisa, Turin, Milan and Venice.

This World Travel Guide is regularly updated to provide tourists with all the latest information about the flights to Italy from all the major cities of the world.
There are many Italy hotels and this World Travel Guide has the current information on all of them regardless of their classification. Detailed information about hotels in Rome, Naples, Bologna, Milan, and other important cities is also available here. If you are looking for accommodation, dining or business, or recreational facilities offered in the hotels in Rome or other cities of Italy, you can safely rely on this World Travel Guide for all such queries. For tourists on a budget, information on cheap vacation packages in Italy can be found in this site.

Italy Tours are incomplete without Italian cuisine. So when you are traveling in Italy, you cannot resist the tastes of the local dishes served in the hotels and restaurants of the country. Information about all the major restaurants in the Italian cities is stored and updated in this World Travel Guide.

There are a lot of sightseeing options in Italy. To help you plan better, this World Travel Guide keeps you updated on all the places of interest in the various cities of Italy. UNESCO has certified many of Italy’s historical buildings and monuments as world Heritage Sites. These include the historical centers of Florence, Rome, and Naples, Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna, and the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy in and around Turin. Residences of the Royal House of Savoy in and around Turin. In this World travel guide, you can get detailed information on how to reach the various tourist spots, where to get local transport, costs and the accommodation facilities in their vicinity.

For tourists traveling in Italy, there are many recreational activities to choose from. The major cities have facilities for activities like Bowling, Pool, outdoor games, bike tours, adventure treks, water sports, and nightclubs. This World Travel Guide is dependable for all types of information on Italy Tours.